HISTORY: Gunggari elder Aunty Ethel Munn, Mayor Tyson Golder and elder Aunty Lynette Nixon.
HISTORY: Gunggari elder Aunty Ethel Munn, Mayor Tyson Golder and elder Aunty Lynette Nixon. David Kapernick

Gunggari Elders celebrate history recognition

THE Mitchell Yumba was dedicated as an Aboriginal reserve in the 1930s and the Department of Native Affairs built a number of corrugated iron cottages to house those who had been moved from unofficial fringe camps in the area.

Several of today's Gunggari elders grew up on the Yumba alongside families from neighbouring Aboriginal tribes, including Bidjara, Kooma and Mandandanji people.

Despite the challenges presented by lack of running water or electricity, many hold fond memories of their Yumba days, living among a vibrant and close-knit Aboriginal community.

The Aboriginal reserve over the Yumba was cancelled in 1957 when the land fell under the control of Booringa Shire Council.

In 1968, citing concerns over sanitation and lack of running water, the council forced the Yumba's inhabitants off the property and bulldozed all of the dwellings.

For many Gunggari people, the bulldozing of the Yumba marked a significant low point in race relations in the townof Mitchell, from which it took many yearsto recover.

The recipient of the NAIDOC 2018 Female Elder of the Year award, Aunty Lynette Nixon, lived at the Yumba as a child in the early 1960s and said the community achieved their rights because they stayed together and spoke as one voice.

"Despite the long and frustrating battle for recognition of our rights, we could not be happier with the outcome,” she said.

"The Yumba really is a very special place that the Gunggari people are responsible for. I was always told that 'Yumba' means 'home' and you have to look after your home. The native title determination made by Justice Rangiah today means our home is in safe hands for future generations of Gunggari people to enjoy.

"Gunggari people had to fight to stay connected to country and endured many years of having to challenge our rights and have our voices heard.

"Many families were forced away from country but are now returning and our ancestors will be happy to see our mob coming back to Mitchell to live and/or retire.”